Planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands? When visiting the Hawaiian Islands, don’t miss out on exploring Oahu’s top 10 attractions. This sun-soaked locale, frequently known as ‘The Gathering Place’, presents a special combination of captivating scenery and vibrant culture.
You’ll get an opportunity to explore popular attractions such as the iconic Waikiki Beach, hike up Diamond Head Summit for breathtaking views, or delve into history at Iolani Palace. For those seeking adrenaline-pumping activities, North Shore is a great place with surfing lessons and shark cage diving experiences.
A visit to Pearl Harbor Memorial will offer you poignant reminders of Hawaii’s past while Kaneohe Bay Sandbar provides an amazing display of marine life. No trip would be complete without experiencing Hawaiian culture at the Polynesian Cultural Center or embarking on adventurous tours like Kualoa Ranch and a helicopter tour.
In this blog post, we’re going to dive deep into these top 10 things to do in Oahu that you won’t forget anytime soon.
The 10 Top Things To Do In Oahu
Let’s jump right into the main topic, the top 10 things to do in Oahu! From the stunning Waikiki Beach to hiking Diamond Head and much more, it’s safe to say you’ll have a great time here.
Exploring the Iconic Waikiki Beach
Known for its spectacular sundown perspectives, Waikiki Beach is a must-see spot in Oahu. Waikiki Beach is not just a stunning sight to behold; it also boasts grand hotels, shops, sky-high bars and exquisite dining.
Also, the sunsets at Waikiki are simply breathtaking. As the day winds down, you’ll witness the sky over the Pacific Ocean painted in mesmerizing hues of pink and orange.
That’s not all – if shopping is your jam, you’re in luck. Kalakaua Avenue, the main strip, is lined with high-end stores where you can shop till you drop. And when hunger strikes, indulge in a variety of dining options, from local Hawaiian cuisine to international delicacies.
To make your visit even more memorable, every Friday night features a spectacular fireworks display that lights up the Waikiki Beach sky. Don’t miss out on this amazing spectacle while vacationing in Oahu!
Hiking Diamond Head Summit
Looking for adventure and stunning views? Hiking to the summit of Diamond Head in Oahu is a must-do. This 760-foot peak offers unparalleled vistas of Honolulu’s cityscape and the vast Pacific Ocean.
The trail starts inside the crater and winds up to the rim through switchbacks. It can be steep, but fear not. Rest stops along the way let you catch your breath while enjoying breathtaking vistas.
At the top, your effort pays off with a panoramic view of Oahu’s south coast. From Waikiki Beach to Koko Head Crater, the beauty is endless.
If possible, time your hike for sunrise or sunset – these moments are pure magic on Diamond Head. The soft hues of morning light and the dramatic colors of the evening sky will leave you in awe.
Bring a bottle of water, wear appropriate footwear for the trek, and make sure you have your camera with you. You’ll want to capture the beauty and remember this experience long after your vacation ends.
Historical Tour of Iolani Palace
If you’re a history buff, then a visit to Iolani Palace should be on your Oahu itinerary. Situated in the middle of Honolulu, this majestic palace was formerly the official home of Hawaii’s monarchy and is now a National Historic Monument.
The palace offers an enriching historical experience that takes you back to the time when King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani ruled over Hawaii. The interiors are filled with original 19th-century furnishings and artifacts, giving you a taste of royal opulence.
Choose between guided or self-led audio tours at Iolani Palace. Both options provide insightful information about each room and stories about the royal residents. It’s like having a history lesson with a touch of luxury.
Don’t forget to take a stroll around the palace grounds, adorned with native plants and statues honoring important figures in Hawaiian history.
Visiting Iolani Palace not only lets you dive into Hawaii’s past, but it also supports the preservation of this significant piece of Hawaiian heritage. Plan your trip today and be a part of history.
Visit Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, one of the most significant sites in American history, is undoubtedly a must-visit when you’re in Oahu. It’s more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a solemn reminder of the tragic events that unfolded on December 7, 1941, when Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base.
As soon as you step into this historic site, you’re transported back in time. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial includes the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, each offering a unique perspective on the events of that fateful day.
The USS Arizona Memorial, accessible only by boat, is a poignant tribute to the more than 1,100 crewmen who lost their lives in the attack. The sunken battleship lies beneath the memorial, its final resting place. Here, you can pay your respects and reflect on the immense sacrifices made during World War II.
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum gives visitors an insight into life aboard a WWII submarine, while the Battleship Missouri Memorial stands as a symbol of the end of the war, being the site where Japan formally surrendered.
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, housed in two hangars that survived the attack, displays an impressive collection of vintage military aircraft. As you explore the exhibits, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the Pacific War’s aviation history.
Visiting Pearl Harbor offers a moving experience that leaves a lasting impression. It’s not just about revisiting a historical event; it’s about honoring the bravery and sacrifice that shaped the course of history. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit this iconic landmark when you’re in Oahu.
Adventurous Activities at North Shore
For adrenaline junkies, Oahu’s North Shore is a haven of excitement. This part of the island offers adrenaline-pumping activities that will make your trip unforgettable.
The first thing on your adventure list should be learning how to surf. The North Shore is known for its big waves and it’s home to some of the best surfing schools in Hawaii, including Gone Surfing Hawaii School. Here, experienced instructors teach you all about balance, timing, and wave selection so you can ride those Hawaiian waves like a pro.
If surfing isn’t enough excitement for you, why not try shark cage diving? Glimpse these awe-inspiring creatures in their own environment from up close and personal.
No matter what type of adventurer you are – whether an aspiring surfer or fearless diver – North Shore has something exciting waiting just for you. So don’t miss out on these attractions during your stay in Oahu.
Kaneohe Bay Sandbar Exploration
Looking for a unique and exciting experience in Oahu? Look no further than the Kaneohe Bay sandbar. This natural wonder, just a mile off the coast, offers a ton of fun activities. From beach volleyball to snorkeling, there’s something for everyone at this stunning locale.
The journey to the sandbar is an adventure in itself. Hop on a boat and cruise across the clear turquoise waters of Kaneohe Bay. As you get closer, watch in awe as this submerged island emerges during low tide. It’s like a magic trick, but with nature.
Once you arrive, it’s time to play. Challenge your friends to a game of beach volleyball right on the sandbar. Or, if you prefer underwater adventures, grab your snorkel gear and dive into the crystal-clear waters. You’ll be greeted by a vibrant marine life, with colorful fish and corals. It’s like swimming in a real-life aquarium.
No need to exert yourself, if you’re not into physical activities. Just kick back, relax, and soak up the breathtaking beauty of Hawaii. On the sandy beach, with a vivid blue sea surrounding you, it’s like strolling on an aquatic path of pleasure. It’s pure bliss.
No matter what kind of adventurer you are, exploring Kaneohe Bay Sandbar should be at the top of your Oahu bucket list. Trust us, it’s an unforgettable experience.
Star Honolulu Cruise Ship Experience
Unwind after a day of sun and surf aboard the popular Star Honolulu cruise ship. This luxurious vessel offers top-notch services and breathtaking views of Oahu's coastline.
Indulge in a seven-course dinner prepared by Hawaii's finest chefs. Each dish offers a unique taste that perfectly complements the stunning oceanic view. From fresh seafood delicacies to traditional Hawaiian cuisine, every course will leave you craving more.
But wait, there's more. Stroll along the outdoor pathways and be captivated by a star-studded sky while taking in the vistas of Oahu's coastline illuminated at night.
And it's not just about the food and sights. Enjoy live entertainment featuring local musicians performing traditional Hawaiian music and contemporary hits. Immerse yourself in Hawaii's vibrant culture while sailing through its beautiful waters.
If you're looking for a relaxing yet exciting way to end your day in Oahu, book a spot aboard Star Honolulu. It's the perfect way to experience the best of Hawaii.
Kualoa Ranch Tour
Calling all movie buffs and nature lovers. Don't miss out on the Kualoa Ranch - the ultimate destination for adventure and Hollywood magic. This iconic ranch has served as the backdrop for blockbuster films like Jurassic Park and popular TV series like Lost.
But wait, there's more. This tour isn't just about spotting famous film locations. Be astounded by the stunning scenery of Oahu's lavish terrains while you take a guided trip through hills and valleys.
Looking for some action? Kualoa Ranch has you covered with a range of activities. Saddle up for a horseback riding tour or rev up your adrenaline on an ATV ride through tricky terrains. There's something for everyone.
Not into adventure? No problem. Dive into history and culture with visits to ancient Hawaiian fishponds and sacred temples. Kualoa Ranch offers a glimpse into the rich heritage of the island.
In a nutshell, whether you're a film fanatic or a nature enthusiast, Kualoa Ranch is a must-visit on your Oahu itinerary. Get ready for an unforgettable experience.
Join a Helicopter Tour Around Oahu
One of the most thrilling ways to experience the breathtaking beauty of Oahu is from the sky. Joining a helicopter tour around the island is an unforgettable adventure that should definitely be on your Oahu bucket list.
Helicopter tours provide a unique vantage point to appreciate the island's diverse landscapes - from the bustling cityscape of Honolulu to the serene beauty of the North Shore.
You'll get an unparalleled view of iconic landmarks such as Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, and Pearl Harbor. Not to mention the stunning vistas of lush green valleys, majestic mountain ranges, and cascading waterfalls that are often inaccessible by land.
A helicopter tour over Oahu isn't just a sightseeing trip; it's an experience that combines thrill, wonder, and awe as you take in the island's natural beauty from a perspective few get to enjoy. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, a helicopter tour around Oahu is a flight worth taking.
Take Part In a Traditional Luau
For a truly authentic Hawaiian experience, nothing compares to participating in a traditional luau. This time-honored tradition is not just a feast, but a vibrant celebration of Hawaiian culture, filled with music, dance, and storytelling. Luaus are a window into Hawaii's past, offering guests a taste of the islands' rich cultural heritage.
The evening usually begins with an imu ceremony, where a pig is unearthed from an underground oven, symbolizing the connection between Hawaiians and the land. The feast that follows is a culinary journey through Hawaii's flavors.
Traditional dishes served include lū'au (taro leaves cooked with coconut milk), poi (mashed taro root), laulau (meat wrapped in taro leaves), and haupia (coconut pudding). These delicacies provide a unique dining experience you won't find anywhere else. But a luau isn't just about the food.
As you enjoy your meal, you'll be treated to a spectacle of Polynesian entertainment.
Participating in a luau is more than an attraction; it's an immersion into Hawaiian culture. It's an opportunity to engage with the island's traditions, meet locals, and learn about the spirit of aloha that permeates Hawaiian life.
In conclusion, there are endless amazing things to do in Oahu, from its iconic beaches and historic landmarks to its vibrant culture and thrilling outdoor adventures.
Whether you're soaking up the sun in Waikiki, surfing at the North Shore, hiking Diamond Head, or immersing yourself in Polynesian traditions, there's something for everyone on this beautiful island. So pack your bags, come explore, and create your own unique memories in the unforgettable paradise that is Oahu.
These top 10 things to do in Oahu guarantee an unforgettable vacation filled with relaxation, adventure, history, nature, and cultural experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Oahu, known as "The Gathering Place", is famous for its mix of natural beauty and cultural richness. It houses Honolulu, the historic Pearl Harbor, and world-renowned Waikiki Beach. The island is also known for its North Shore, a global surfing hotspot. Oahu's rich Polynesian culture is showcased through traditional luaus and visits to the Polynesian Cultural Center. From hiking Diamond Head to snorkeling adventures, Oahu offers a wealth of experiences.
The most famous spot on Oahu is arguably the Waikiki Beach, with its golden sands and clear waters attracting millions of visitors each year. However, the island's fame is also tied to the historic Pearl Harbor site and the iconic Diamond Head State Monument.
These landmarks, along with the vibrant city life of Honolulu and the surf culture of the North Shore, collectively contribute to Oahu's worldwide recognition.
When you first arrive in Oahu, consider starting your journey in Waikiki. Here, you can relax on its famous beach, try surfing, or explore the bustling city life. A hike up to the summit of Diamond Head State Monument is another must-do for panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu. To deepen your understanding of Hawaii's history, a visit to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial should be on your itinerary too.
Oahu's unique appeal lies in its blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance. Known as "The Gathering Place", it combines urban sophistication with tropical charm.
From the bustling city life of Honolulu to the world-class surf at North Shore, and from the historic site of Pearl Harbor to the vibrant Polynesian culture showcased through traditional luaus, Oahu offers a diverse range of experiences that sets it apart from other destinations.
The prettiest part of Oahu is subjective as the island is full of stunning locations. The Windward Coast, with its lush mountains and beautiful beaches, is often considered one of the most picturesque areas. However, many also find the view of Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head monument breathtaking.
Waikiki's golden sands and clear waters are undeniably beautiful, while the North Shore offers a rugged beauty with its powerful waves and laid-back charm.